Heading to the Super Bowl? How to visit the Grand Canyon, Sedona and more from Phoenix
If you're coming to Phoenix for the Super Bowl, have you thought about how you'll spend your time when you're not at the game? Consider a day trip or an easy overnight away from the Valley of the Sun. Arizona is loaded with historical downtowns, desert and mountain outdoor recreation and great local wine and beer
You can see spectacular red rock landscapes, sip wines made with grapes grown in the Verde Valley or southern Arizona, soak in the saguaro-dotted Sonoran Desert landscapes or if you have more time, cross the Grand Canyon off your bucket list.
Just know that while Phoenix winter temperatures are mild, other parts of the state experience frostier conditions. Bring warm clothes and sturdy shoes if you plan to venture to northern Arizona.
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Distance from Phoenix: 53 miles via U.S. 60 and the Apache Trail.
Why you should go: This relic of an Old West town along the Apache Trail, which started life as a stagecoach stop in 1904, lies on the southern edge of Tonto National Forest. Today Tortilla Flat welcomes people looking for an authentic taste of the Old West, plus those looking to sample the prickly pear gelato at the Superstition Restaurant and Saloon.
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Distance from Phoenix: 100 miles via Interstate 17 and State Route 69.
Why you should go: In Prescott, you can drink where the Old West cowboys and outlaws drank. Whiskey Row, a stretch of Montezuma Street named for its high concentration of saloons, thrived in the culture of the 1880s mining boom as a place for prospectors to enjoy a drink after a day of searching for ore. A lot has changed – these days the saloons coexist with boutiques and art galleries – but you can still get whiskey on Whiskey Row.
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Cottonwood, Verde Valley
Distance from Phoenix: 103 miles via I-17 and SR 260.
Why you should go: Cottonwood is a magnet for those who like to imbibe. It's renowned for its plentiful wineries and breweries, with 10 tasting rooms located along historic Main Street in Old Town. From there, the Verde Valley Wine Trail spreads out with destination wineries and tasting rooms in nearby Jerome, Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Cornville and Sedona.
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Distance from Phoenix: 111 miles via I-17, SR 260 and SR 89A.
Why you should go: If you end up taking the wine trail into Jerome, stay for the history. Jerome was once a copper mining hotspot with a population of 15,000 people, but then the mines closed and only a handful of residents remained. An effort to preserve Jerome's historic structures, such as the Douglas Mansion – now Jerome State Historic Park – ultimately led to the town's designation as a National Historic Landmark. The Spirit Room bar at the Connor Hotel packs in fans of beer and live music.
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Distance from Phoenix: 114 miles via I-10.
Why you should go: Tucson's cactus-studded landscape draws visitors to places like Tucson Mountain Park, Tohono Chul botanical garden and the fascinating Mission Garden, which preserves 4,000 years of Tucson's food history. But it's Saguaro National Park, whose west and east sides bookend Tucson, where people can see the tallest of the saguaro cacti that characterize the Sonoran Desert, plus wildlife like javelinas and black-tailed jackrabbits.
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Distance from Phoenix: 116 miles via I-17 and SR 179.
Why you should go: Sedona is considered one of the most beautiful places in the U.S., in no small part because of its spectacular red rock landscapes. The sandstone buttes of Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock are popular with hikers, while off-road tours like the famous Pink Jeeps give visitors a view of the red rocks from a different perspective.
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Distance from Phoenix: 144 miles via I-17.
Why you should go: If you need a break from the mild climate of Phoenix and want to experience the seasonal cold temperatures (or even snow), Flagstaff is among your best bets, averaging about 100 inches of snow annually. If you plan to hit the slopes, Flagstaff is a short drive from the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort. Or simply spend your time exploring the stores, restaurants and bars of the historic downtown. Don't miss the cool establishments south of the train tracks, or the many homegrown breweries in town.
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Grand Canyon National Park
Distance from Phoenix: 228 miles via I-17, Interstate 40 and SR 64.
Why you should go: Whether you go just to catch a glimpse of the overlook views from Mather Point or take a mule ride to the canyon bottom, Grand Canyon National Park is a bucket-list destination for many people. Photos and videos rarely do it justice. You could go to the South Rim and back in a long day, but if you can stay overnight you'll have more time to enjoy the views and take advantage of the walks, historic buildings and visitor programs. Just know that snow and ice are possible this time of year. Bring warm clothes.
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You can reach Michael Salerno at Michael.Salerno@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter @salerno_phx.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Super Bowl bound? How to road trip to Grand Canyon, Sedona and more